Today we went in, around, and even above Graz with the friendly and insightful guidance of our on-site coordinator, Volker Horn. Volker has been working for months behind the scenes to make our stay here comfortable, and we were very grateful to have him and his expertise with us as we discovered more about our home for the next several weeks.
We began our tour in the Gemalte Haus (the ‘painted house’ – or in the words of the Austrian tourism board, a building with a ‘wall tattoo’), where we meet for our classes. The Gemalte Haus is one of the oldest buildings in all of Graz – built in 1360 – and was also the site of Graz’ first Parliament. It’s easy to recognize, just opposite Graz’ City Hall, by its facade’s beautiful 300-year-old frescoes. Afterward, we walked down the street to the Landhaus, an ornate Renaissance-era residence that today serves (among other things) as a meeting quarters for the Styrian regional parliament. In the courtyard of the Landhaus we learned about the importance of iron ore for the Styrian area.
During our morning with Volker we climbed up a 400-year-old double-sided staircase (one of only three such staircases in Europe), peeked quickly in the Zeughaus (‘thing house’ in modern-day German) where a collection of medieval suits of armor and weapons are kept, and visited the Graz cathedral (complete with mausoleum next door). After a hearty lunch at the Krebsenkeller we continued on through the city center to our final stop: the funicular rail that would take us up to the Schlossberg. With its panoramic view of the city, the Schlossberg was an ideal spot for a fortress to protect the city. It was first used for this purpose over 1,000 years ago. Centuries later, even though Napoleon’s forces were unable to conquer the castle, the Treaty of Schönbrunn in 1809 allowed it to be mostly destroyed. All that remains is the large (beautiful) clock tower. It was simply breathtaking to look down over the whole city, and then look north and watch the storm clouds roll in. Thunderstorms have become a part of our daily life here in Graz; we did have time toget a group photo, though!
Unfortunately we weren’t able to spend as much time as we might have liked in all the different historic and cultural corners of Graz, but we all left with a better impression of the diverse past and present of the city. Tomorrow we will have our first normal school day before heading to City Hall for a reception with the Mayor’s office. More to come – bis später!
das Gemalte Haus
Looking into the future with Faun in the Landhaus courtyard
On the double staircase